Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre

My sister is an academic scientist who, because of her work, has never had a garden because of her constant movements but now is based in the south of France and has at least a balcony garden which she is busy trying to make the most use of.

Limited space

The available balcony is on the top floor of her apartment and has good light and heat in season but it can be windy at times. Her initial efforts of growing some food crops and flowers were ruined by some rough wind and rain. She has rectified this by lining the railings with a windbreak and is all set to have another go this spring. It does not matter to her that there will not be volumes of food or flowers but there will be enough to stimulate the taste buds and, of course, there is the feel good factor which follows from growing some living plants.

Fun thoughts

Another snippet of information which my sister has found includes the fun use of food names and how they can apply to our daily living. The first is to plant three rows of Peas and these are for Peace of mind, Peace of heart and Peace of soul. The second is to plant four rows of Squash and they are to Squash gossip, Squash indifference, Squash grumbling and Squash selfishness. The third is to plant four rows of Lettuce as in Lettuce be faithful, Lettuce be kind, Lettuce be patient and Lettuce really love one another. The forth is for Turnips and they mean Turnip for meetings, Turnip for service and Turnip to help one another. The fifth is we must have Thyme for each other, Thyme for family and Thyme for friends. Now water and feed freely with patience and cultivate with love!

Slow sow start

It is the time of year that we expect bad weather and it is difficult to get motivated. Nobody is expecting anyone to go mad on that front but the best thing to do is have fun planning what to do this season and then go about being prepared. If you want to sow seeds then pick what you like to grow and maybe sow a small batch of those indoors that are slow to germinate. Some people sow early with a burst of enthusiasm and then watch the seeds grow long and lanky as they are too early to plant out. As a rule of thumb you need about eight weeks from sowing to planting out in early May when the danger of frost has passed and, therefore, sowing can begin from the end of February onwards.

Ready made

If you are not that into sowing but would prefer to plant readymade plants then you just have to wait until May to fill up your containers and pots. Other gardening such as hardy plants like trees, shrubs, perennials, fruit etc can be completed almost all the year round but I would not undertake any large scale planting in either July or August. So, in essence, you can dabble in gardening all the time or dip in and out as you wish or have time. It is a great hobby and can be part of your lifestyle habits for the future.


It is around now that house plants show some suffering from being overheated during the Christmas period. The usual signs are that leaves start to drop off and the natural instinct is to water, feed or repot the plants or a combination of all three. None of these actions are the solution and the better response is to move the plants into a position where they will receive more light, away from fluctuating temperatures and give a misting on the foliage regularly. If you have any query or comments you are welcome to share them with me on [email protected] 051-384273 and if of general interest I will include it in a later newsletter.

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By Melanie Dool
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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